Underwood Area Economic Development Corp. strengthens the community

UNDERWOOD – The Underwood Area Economic Development Corporation had a busy past year. Wendy Spencer is economic development director.

Commercial Park

UAEDC formed a committee made up of members of the UAEDC board and City Commission to discuss the Industrial Park Land. Before any strong development marketing could move forward, the land needed to be annexed into the city and have zoning proposed for the land. The committee met several times to lay out zoning that would be appropriate for the land and use that Underwood would deem as desirable for the community. After much discussion, the committee decided to refrain from calling it an Industrial Park and use Commercial Park instead. The committee has handed off the zoning request and is waiting on a zoning board meeting to discuss the proposal. When the zoning board has approved the zoning, the request for annexation of the land into the city will be taken to the City Commission.

UAEDC has been working on putting a sale sign up on the property. Unfortunately, the weather has played a role in not being able to get the signage up with the large amount of snowfall we have had so far this winter. As soon as the weather allows, a sign will be put up announcing the sale of commercial lots.

Spencer is working with the Department of Commerce on packaging the property for development as well as marketing. In addition, she is working on a getting a rendering put together of the property as used in a commercial setting.

Beautification Day

UAEDC held its annual Beautification Day in May 2016. Community areas were raked and cleaned, weeds were pulled and flowers were planted. There were several people that volunteered along with UAEDC board members.

Community Betterment Program

Developed by the UAEDC board to encourage demolition of buildings that are dilapidated or unsightly through incentive grant programs. The grant program helps residents and commercial property defray a portion of the cost to tear down old, dilapidated buildings.

Underwood Marketing Program

A new grant program was implemented this year to encourage area businesses to market their business. Grants are available to businesses up to $250 to an area business wanting to create marketing materials or places ads. The money can also be used to create a website. UAEDC also offers to work with businesses to create a marketing strategy so they are able to leverage their marketing dollars and make them go farther. In addition, UAEDC launched radio ads, along with digital ads promoting Underwood. In April, an Underwood Business directory was inserted into the Xtra for regional distribution in Underwood and surrounding communities.

Shop Local Saturday

UAEDC promoted its own version of Small Business Saturday that is held each year after Black Friday. We had four businesses participate in the promotion which consisted of special sales and discounts given for that day only. The program was supported by a newspaper ad, Facebook ads and shared through UAEDC’s newsletter. Next year we plan on growing this promotion from four businesses to many more. Instead of competing with larger retail businesses on the Saturday after Black Friday, this promotion will be held in conjunction with Civic Club’s kids shopping and the Art, Craft and Bake Sale, which is typically held the following weekend.

New initiatives in 2017

UAEDC is reviving the Underwood Business Alliance.